I absolutely adore pumpkins, and they’re really going off at this time of year. Whenever I’m blessed enough to have one of these golden girls at home, the first thing that comes to mind is pumpkin soup. But there are so many other possibilities with this versatile wonder vegetable, and limiting it to a standard soup, or even a jack o’ lantern isn’t giving this vegetable the recognition it deserves.
Pumpkins are one of my favourite veggies, because they’re so sumptuously sweet and oh-so comforting. In the cooler months that’s all you really want right? Something that’s going to fire off your senses, but also give you that big hearty cuddle that wholesome cooked veggies can bring. A raw salad is often the last thing you want to dig into in the middle of an icy, wearisome day. It can sometimes feel like a punishment having to dig your teeth into such a crunchy, cold concoction. When the warm weather hits, sure; bring on the raw, juicy, cold veggies. Pile them on high. But when the cooler months arrive, you need something a little bit more welcoming; and a bit of gorgeous, glowing, roasted pumpkin can really make the difference.
I am a huge fan of a spectacular salad, and couldn’t imagine living without them. Any meal that’s heavy on health boosting plant foods is in my good books. That’s why I’ve created this well rounded roast pumpkin, brown rice and tamari seeded salad. It’s is the perfect winter lunch salad; containing a few health boosting herbs and greens combined with wholesome brown rice, and delectable roast pumpkin taking the centre stage.
Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, melons and zucchini. Not only are they gorgeously golden in colour and make an impressive Halloween centrepiece, but they can be found growing happily all over the world. Pumpkins have been found to grow in six of the seven continents. They even grow in Alaska! The only place they can’t be found is Antarctica. They can also grow incredibly large; with the largest pumpkin weighing in at a whopping 1,810 pounds! Because of their abundance, you can pick them up cheap as chips, and they’re a wonderful investment into your health.
Eating your pumpkin is a sure fire way to turn your body into a disease free zone. The stunning, rich orange colour of pumpkin flesh comes from the awe-inspiring craftsmanship of beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant belonging to a group of pigments called carotenoids, which give vegetables a beautiful sunset hue. Beta-carotene has been found to reduce cell damage caused by free radicals, and improves immune function by enhancing cell mediated immune responses. Because of the close link between disease and immunity, beta-carotene is believed to prevent cancer, and many other chronic diseases.
You mightn’t realise at first glance, but the humble pumpkin is present with a vast array of unique edible substances, with powerful medicinal properties. Researchers at Jiwaji University have done some lengthy investigations on the medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin, and have found several amazing health promises within this everyday veg. They’ve been found to contain several phyto-constituents belonging to the categories of alkaloids, flavonoids, and palmitic, oleic and linoleic acids, and boast important medicinal properties including anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory. Now who would’ve thought pumpkin could have a profile that sounds so similar to that of a pharmaceutical drug? The truth is that many common grocery items claim these kinds of benefits. They key is uncovering them! For more of my recipes featuring the impressive pumpkin, try these tasty, simple oven roasted vegetables and if you can’t move past the good old pumpkin soup, try this exotic pumpkin and coconut soup.
Now that you know a few of the intricate benefits of pumpkin, hopefully you will never view it as an ordinary weeknight vegetable again, but a powerful, potent health heightener! This colourful salad really showcases the potential of the pretty pumpkin, and even includes the seeds, which are a wonderful source of minerals. Your only job now is to whip this trouble-free dish together and imagine all the positive chemical reactions that are occurring with every delicious mouthful. Not only will you love the sweetness of the pumpkin; you’ll absolutely adore the lip-smacking dressing made with zingy lemon and apple cider vinegar, with a mildly salty tamari kick. Multiply the ingredients for the amount of mouths you need to feed and you will have a bunch of very happy, and healthy campers!
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to grease
- 600 gms butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, cut into 2-3cm pieces
- 2/3 cup long-grain brown rice
- 60g pepitas
- 60g sunflower seeds
- 3 TBS fresh lemon juice
- 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
- 11/2 TBS wheat free tamari
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 garlic cloves, crushed
- 6 drops liquid stevia
- 1 cup baby rocket, washed
- ¼ cup chopped coriander to serve
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to serve
- Chop pumpkin brush with olive oil and bake for 220 degrees for about 30 mins turning once
- Meanwhile on the stovetop cook the rice in a large saucepan of boiling water for 20 minutes or until tender but not too well cooked
- Drain rice in a sieve rinse with cold water and set aside for 30 minutes to cool
- In a bowl place seeds and drizzle with tamari then stir to evenly coat. Place in frying pan on medium heat for 5-10 mins until lightly toasted. Remove and let cool.
- Combine lemon juice, wheat free tamari, sesame oil, garlic and stevia, sea salt and pepper in a small jug.
- Drizzle dressing over brown rice then add rocket, pumpkin, and tamari seeds and stir gently.